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Pelvic organ prolapse: a patient-centred perspective on what women encounter seeking diagnosis and treatment

Nancy Muller

The purpose of this study was to identify how pelvic organ prolapse (POP) impacts the lives of women, to understand the barriers and frustrations that women encounter in seeking diagnosis and intervention and to determine priorities consumers consider most important for future research and government action. Between May and November 2006, the National Association For Continence (NAFC) distributed a survey via the association’s quarterly public newsletter, Quality Care®. Surveys were completed and returned by 6.8% of the female readership who self-reported symptoms of POP. A total of 97 women agreed to participate in an in-depth telephone interview. Telephone contact was successfully made and interviews were completed by a single interviewer with one-third, or 33, of the 97 women. Respondents reported issues that limit quality of life including urinary and faecal incontinence, inability to enjoy sport and dissatisfaction with conservative management and surgical treatment. Respondents also reported difficulty in discussing symptoms with their doctors and a lack of recognition of the severity of POP by primary care physicians. In addition, adequate public health education and promotion on the subject is lacking, according to respondents. There is an identified need for health professionals to recognise the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment of POP. In addition, there is a need to develop educational material for both primary care health professionals and consumers in order to encourage more open dialogue between providers and their patients on the subject. By identifying barriers and frustrations encountered in seeking diagnosis and intervention, the research findings also indicate the need for developing an instrument to assess consumer attempts to access diagnosis and intervention for POP.

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pdf icon ANZCJ Vol 16 No 3 pp70-80.pdf